Mercedes F1 track engineering director Andrew Shovlin believes the W13 is “especially annoying” as it gives the team a glimpse of what it is capable of in terms of performance, but still lacks consistency.
The German team recorded their best result of the season in Hungary just before the break, with George Russell taking pole position, the first of his career and the first with a Silver Arrow in 2022, before he and the his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, both finish on the podium the next day, as in France.
This pole from the Briton was a real surprise because until now, the W13 had never been able to fight for the front row on a regular basis this season.
“This car has been particularly upsetting because it gives us a glimpse of what its true performance level could be, so much so that it’s hard for us to decide to give up.” Shovlin explained.
“From an engineering point of view, it’s a complicated car. And some of our problems are definitely that we don’t have enough downforce, we have to find more and that’s the same thing. For power. But overall, it’s a sign that we’re going in the right direction. The double podium, the pole position, are results that we could not dream of at the beginning of the year. It’s encouraging, we seem to be making progress.”
Mercedes F1 believes in its “no pontoon” concept.
If the W13 lacks downforce, it’s largely because Mercedes was forced to increase its height to reduce the extreme bounce that has long plagued it and its drivers. And now that the issue seems resolved, the German team is doing everything they can to make their ‘non-pontoon’ concept work as well as possible, with some engineers convinced of its potential by wind tunnel results.
“I think it’s been helpful to see that this narrow chassis is able to work in the races. It’s definitely something we use as a base for our development. We’ll be more efficient if we work with what we have, rather than trying to -ho. copy someone else’s design.”
“It’s not that we say ‘well, we’ll follow this path forever’, we’re very open to what we want for the car. What we’ve already validated is the development path, which currently allows for better results and which seems capable of bringing us to victories this year. There is no doubt that the path we are on is the right one to improve our performance.”
“But the pontoons are only part of the overall problems we had to solve. There are still three races that we were bouncing all over the place, in Montreal, Baku or Monaco.”
“Now when our riders talk about bounce it’s only because they felt it at some point in a corner. It was noticeable by its absence. And we were able to improve our current package, which is a good sign.
Shovlin added that Mercedes saw no point in taking inspiration from a rival car, as the Aston Martin F1 did with the Red Bull concept.
“If you make your car look like someone else’s, you’re going to lose performance in the short term. There may be long-term gains, but for our car as of this year, I think we have a good idea of what we want to do with it and what extra level of performance we can get out of it. We’re excited to think about what we’re going to bring to the next few races.”